Heart for Uganda

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Good Friends at SMK

Posted on March 18, 2015 at 11:30 AM

Visitors alway bring about special excitement at SMK.  The children are so eager to meet new people or reconnect with existing friends.  They just blossom under the attention, love, and nurturance of their special friends.  Recently SMK had the privilege of welcoming some CTT friends.. Miesha, Fred, and Sarah.   Their interactions with the children were so incredibly inspiring, and the kids just soaked up their company like a sponge from the youngest to the oldest...

















But visitors also signify a rekindling of friendship of other friends.  Sponsors and friends send over letters and goodies for the kids to enjoy.  Each feels so special to have that little piece of love that they can carry and enjoy.  It is such a privilege to be the delivery person and see the smiles that radiate from their faces...








CTT Team 8 Trip a SUCCESS!!

Posted on January 21, 2015 at 9:25 AM

While this is ridiculously late... CTT Team 8 was fun and memorable.  Can't tell you who enjoyed more...the team members or the children.  Hopefully the photos will show the special times had by all!!  Special thanks to Natalie, Alan, Holly, Gus, Anna, Wyatt, Suzanne, Dawn, and Emily for all of your friendship and spending the holidays with special friends at SMK!!























CTT Team 8 is Coming!!

Posted on December 12, 2014 at 11:15 AM

Just a few days following our return home to Uganda, CTT's Team 8 will begin arriving at SMK.  They will be loaded to the hilt with goodies, activities, special letters and packages from sponsors, and Christmas gift items.  Each day will be filled with activities and quality time with the orphans remaining at SMK.  This visit is really a highlight for SMK children.  It is the perfect way to celebrate the Christmas holidays and ring in the New Year.  Team members will be arriving during various dates beginning December 15th...some will stay a week while others will be able to fit in a couple of extra days. 

 

Here is a brief introduction to our Team 8 friends.  You will notice that most of the team members this year are returning friends, which really speaks to the quality of relationships built between CTT supporters and the orphans at SMK.  But for more information about all of these visitors, please visit Gloria's blog at   http://gloriainafrica.blogspot.com/.

 

 

The leader of Team 8 is Natalie... this will be her 3rd trip to Uganda.

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Suzanne is making her 4th trip to Uganda.

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Dawn and her daughter, Emily.  Dawn is making her 3rd trip to Uganda,

while Emily will return for her 2nd time.

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This family will come to Uganda together... Holly and her daughter, Anna, will

return for their 2nd time.  While dad Alan and boys, Wyatt and Gus,

will have the pleasure of experiencing SMK for their 1st time.

 

 

 

The Gang's All Here

Posted on December 28, 2013 at 1:25 PM

Tomorrow the entire CTT team will be together. SMK children have been enjoying the company of Jeff, Jennifer, Cynthia, Josh, Jane, Max, Sam, and Leah. And Dawn and Emily will be joining this energetic group. The days blink by… there is constant activities, like Photography Class, Computer Training, Book Clubs and Story telling, lessons encouraging Hope, Crafts, music made with Boom-whackers, Rainbow Loom Bracelet making (a new craze in America I was clueless to until just last week), many interesting conversations, and millions of inquisitive questions. The kids are drawn to Max, Sam and Leah. Having someone who is their age-mate has been a special experience for them. Emily will fit right into that group.

 

Leah (with Rosette)

Jennifer (with Oliva)

Max (with Daniel)

Sam (with Nicky, Brian, and Jonah)

Jeff (with Nicky)

Josh (with Kaifa, Joan, and Irene)

Christmas Day receiving gifts from CTT (Rebecca, Irene, Irene, Issy, and Claire)

Team Leaders Jeff and Jennifer with Mama Rosemary

The Team's All Here

Posted on December 23, 2012 at 1:45 AM

Change The Truth's Team 6 is here at SMKOM.  Each team member is greeted with lots of hugs and inquiries about their night.  Throughout the day, there is a buzz about the school as team members engage children in various activities (making bacelets or banana fiber dolls or small wooden cars or pictures. reading books, jumping rope, playing group games like 'Red Light, Green Light'), encouraging artists in the artroom, receiving a thorough physical, painting toe nails, having lots chats about life in Uganda vs. America, and so so much more.

 

I LOVE having visitors, and these new friends have been so super easy to host.  They are full of smiles, fun stories, and a purely positive vibe.  Suzanne, who is the team leader, is organized, caring, and thoughtful.  Gloria has sure assembled another incredible group!!

 

 

Holly and her new friend, Ronah

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Anna (with Miriam) pumpling the bore-hole (it is not as easy as it looks)

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Natalie (surrounded by Erias, Kata, Solmon, and Ritah)

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Jennifer reading to some younger orphans

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Team Leader Suzanne and Scovia

CTT Team 6 Introductions-- Part 2

Posted on December 12, 2012 at 4:15 AM

One of the most memorable trips to SMK for me was the one with Team 3, when Antwain was able to accompany me. I LOVED every moment of having my son meet children who had become so beloved to me. And I was AMAZED at Antwain’s adaptability, friendliness, and compassion. In some ways, I was seeing parts of him with a fresh set of eyes. So it is so neat and exciting that 2 parent-child teams are about the embark on their own Ugandan adventure together. The memories that they will share for a lifetime will truly be life-enriching!

 

Today please meet…Holly and her daughter, Anna AND Josh and his daughter, Leah.

 

Holly and Anna:

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Anna is a senior at Washburn Rural High School in Topeka, Kansas. She is a captain of the swim team and runs cross-country. Anna is visiting colleges and is interested in Kansas State University and the University of Arkansas. She hopes to study International Relations, International Business or pre-law.

 

Holly is a labor and delivery nurse in Topeka. She teaches clinicals at Washburn University School of Nursing. She will complete her nurse practitioner masters in May. She enjoys running, biking and swimming.

 

Holly and Anna learned about Change the Truth from Holly's parents after they attended the annual Friendraiser/Fundraiser in 2011. They were moved by the children at St. Mary Kevin Orphanage, the struggles they face and the efforts of CTT to help provide assistance. Holly and Anna are in the process of collecting needed supplies for the medical clinic and are excited to meet the children

 

 

Josh and Leah:

"Leah Sosland is 13 years old and attends school at the Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy, where she has been a student since kindergarten. Leah is currently in the 8th grade. Every summer, Leah goes to Camp Ramah in Wisconsin for two months. Leah has made some lifelong friends there, and the camp has also helped her expand her interests and education. She enjoys art, music, and especially literature and books. Leah has been playing piano since a young age, and loves to read. She also plays sports such as basketball, tennis, and soccer.

 

Leah first learned of Gloria’s work when she was 10 at a CTT fundraiser. She became very interested in CTT and was moved by Lynne Melcher’s beautiful film and the wonderful work of Gloria and many others. She decorated one of the banana dolls for the CTT fundraiser, making hers a piano teacher, standing beside a wooden piano. For her Bat Mitzvah project last February, Leah decided to raise money for Change The Truth Foundation. 


 

Inspired by everything Change The Truth does, Leah became interested in going on one of the teams to St. Mary Kevin Orphanage in Uganda. She and her father, Josh, decided together to volunteer to serve as a members of Team 6 and are very excited to share in this experience."

 

"Josh Sosland has been an editor for 29 years at Sosland Publishing Co. in Kansas City, writing primarily about the wheat foods industry in the United States. The principal magazine published by the company for the last 90 years is Milling & Baking News and deals with issues that include global food production and nutrition. Earlier this year his work took him to Haiti to write a feature article about the country’s only flourmill, destroyed in the devastating earthquake of January 2010.

 

In addition to his work in journalism, Josh has been involved in community affairs throughout his adult life. For more than 20 years, he was a director of the Community Blood Center of Kansas City, serving as president of the organization from 2000-04. He also has served on the boards of numerous arts organizations and has been active in the Jewish community.

 

Josh has known Gloria for nearly 20 years, first because she was his neighbor in Kansas City. It was while attending a Change the Truth fundraiser that Josh saw Lynne Melcher’s beautiful film about St. Mary Kevin Orphanage and learned about Gloria’s great work. Josh’s wife Jane and three children also were greatly moved by what they learned. It was the passion of his youngest daughter, Leah, that inspired Josh to volunteer to serve as a member of Team 6."

CTT Team 6 Introductions-- Part 1

Posted on December 11, 2012 at 5:15 AM

In less than one week’s time now, Change The Truth 6’s team of special friends will be landing in Uganda. Their December trip is an annual highlight at St. Mary Kevin Orphanage Motherhood, and the end of the academic year begins the countdown to the CTT team’s arrival. For two weeks, these special friends will spend time playing games, reading books, holding hands, sharing hugs, exploring the village, working on various projects at the school, teaching computer lessons, and sharing a special Christmas day with the orphans of SMKOM.

 

 

This year’s team will be different in a couple of regards…first of all, our long-time leader, Gloria, will not be amongst the team. Gloria visited SMKOM with her sister just a few months ago, so she is going to enjoy the holiday season back home with her own family (who has missed her presence for the past several holidays). And 6 of the 7 team members are first time visitors to Uganda and SMK. They will be introduced to the sights, sounds, and smells of Uganda, as well as the beloved faces of SMK orphans. Each of the new friends have heard stories, seen pictures, and supported CTT events, but now they will be a part of the adventures. So thrilling!!

 

 

Gloria featured this same information on her blog a couple of weeks ago, so if you would like to learn more about any of the team members, please check out her blog at http://gloriainafrica.blogspot.com.

 

 

Today I would like to introduce you to: Suzanne (Team 6’s fearless leader), Jennifer, and Natalie.

 

Suzanne:

"It’s often a sad day when the team leaves SMK. Tears flow and hands get interwoven with one another. The children know when that day is coming, they start to ask you if you are coming back next December. Your heart automatically says yes, but you hesitate because you have to be sure if you are so as to not disappoint the children if you can’t.

 

Each year as it gets closer to that decision time to go or not, I always think to myself how can I not go and hear their laughter, hold their hands and just be there. This year, Gloria and the board asked me if I would consider going and co-leading the Team with Melissa. It was not a difficult decision because my heart is always there whether I am physically there or not. It just seems natural for me to be there in December. There is nowhere else I rather be.

 

So, in just a little more than two weeks, I will embark on my journey to the children of SMK. I envision seeing their smiles and holding many hands and having my heart overflow with love once again. I am beyond excited for the Team this year. We have many fun and new things planned for the kids. It will be different without Gloria at the helm and I know I will miss her guidance, but I am confident that Melissa and the Team will forge new bonds, explore new avenues of fun and create lifelong memories.

 

So when the day comes for the Team to leave, tears will fall, hearts will ache but the imprint of the days spent at SMK, the laughter shared and the love given will not ever be forgotten.

 

I look forward to sharing our journey with you all through blog posts and, of course, photos!"

 

 

 

Jennifer:

"Over the past couple of years, I've had the lovely chance to become friends with several great team members and supporters of CTT. I'm so excited to be part of the team this year! If it wasn't for Suzanne, I never would have been blessed enough to meet Gloria and other members of CTT. Everyone has said the experience has changed their lives, and I'm welcoming the experience with open arms and heart. Lots of hugs and smiles are in order for the children! Additionally, I hope to help with reading, crafts, math, writing, gardening and anything SMK needs. My full time job has me working as a development coordinator, and I'm also an adjunct instructor at a University. I love teaching and sharing knowledge.

 

Outside of work, I love to travel, read, cook and spend time with friends.

 

I’m looking forward to meeting everyone at SMK, my fellow team members, Melissa… and seeing the beautiful country of Uganda."

 

 

Natalie:

"I had the good fortune of meeting Gloria Feinstein my very first week of work in the photo department at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. We were at her home and she passed around a plate of Oreos to the group that had gathered to look at artwork. I knew at that moment that I was going to really like this person. I had no idea how right I was.

 

Over the past four years I have gotten to know her through her work, sharing stories about the University of Wisconsin (where we both attended college), our mutual love of baking and football. However, I really began to understand who she is when I listened to her talk about the children at St. Mary Kevin. The passion she exudes for the children at SMK is intoxicating.

 

I knew, upon hearing about Change the Truth for the first time, that it was an organization that I needed to be a part of. I can remember walking down the hallway at work one day, recounting a story Gloria had shared with me to a coworker and wondering out loud if she would ever consider taking me with her to meet these beautiful children. It took me years to even bring up the idea to her. For some reason, the reverence I have for what CTT was accomplishing made me question my own ability to make any sort of impact. Imagine my joy when I was invited to come along.

 

So here I am, four years later, ready to make my own journey to Uganda. The 'wouldn’t it be awesome if I could' dream has become a reality for me. I guess that is what this organization is really all about. Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could just change the truth for these few children? I am excited, scared and thrilled. But most of all, I am grateful. Grateful because I feel like I have been given a gift by being welcomed into the CTT family and because I haven’t even left yet and feel like this experience has already changed me for the better."

Reunion Lunch

Posted on September 19, 2012 at 2:25 PM

Today was a great reunion lunch between Gloria and CTT’s Vocational and University students. We all came together at a great rooftop restaurant in the heart of Kampala on a cloudy, rainy afternoon for lots of laughs, stories, and good times. The Post-Secondary students are a special group of young men and women to me personally, so it was fantastic that Gloria also had time with this group, too. Lunch was long enough for each student’s personality to emerge. The shy were not-so-shy by the end of lunch.


As a special gift, Gloria brought each of the students the NEW CTT t-shirt. Aren’t the colors great!! Thanks so much to CTT’s Vocational and University students (from left): Rosette, Habib, Saka, Daniel, Billy, Nelson, Henry and Samarie. Keep up the great work in your programs!!




 

Farewell Friends

Posted on July 18, 2012 at 2:15 PM

As CTT and SMK friends, Jeff and Jennifer, return home to Kansas City after 2 weeks at SMK, I take some time to reflect on their visit and share some of their experiences.  Jeff and Jennifer came with CTT Team 4 a couple of years ago, and their friendships with the orphans at SMK were not forgotten.  They returned to Uganda to spend two full weeks working and living at SMK…getting a real taste of the daily life of the children during the school term.


They were very busy while here at SMK…organizing SMK’s library, observing class lectures, performing some individual assessments on certain identified students, facilitating their own class lecture, attending Visitation Days for Secondary and University students, providing some computer instructions, hosting a small book club, organizing recreational activities during non-class hours, and giving hundreds of hugs, smiles, encouragements, kind words, story-telling sessions and hand-holding.  Their previous friendships have deepened.  They have made new friends.  And they are permanently in the hearts of everyone at SMK. 






But enough about my observations…here are their experiences in their own words:



Soccer Mom

Written by Jennifer


The children of Ste. Mary Kevin have transformed my life in many ways.  They have blessed me with hugs and hands to hold.  They have shown me the power of a child’s resiliency and courage.  They have given me pure joy and made me experience deep grief.   


Today, the children of Ste. Mary Kevin transformed me into a Soccer Mom. 


The Football Championships for Ste. Mary Kevin’s Zone were held on Friday.  Jeff and I left after lunch to travel with Moses, the Headmaster, to the games to cheer on the Mary Kevin players.  As we watched, I became the nervous soccer mom of the sidelines snapping pictures, complaining about the referee’s calls, and overreacting as great plays were made and the team made it to the Championship game.


But the soccer pitch, much like the lives of children in Uganda, was rocky and uneven.  Cows and goats had to be herded from the field during the games.  Trash and debris littered the pitch.  The goal posts were sticks that were carefully balanced against each other.  A strong wind could have knocked them over and brought the match to a quick end. 


One of the star players, Hamuza, is as tandout dancer & drummer at SMK.  He stole my heart and attention as he danced during our farewell ceremony for Team 4.  Since then, Hamuza has developed allergies that have scarred his eyes. The doctors think they caught the damage early enough to prevent serious vision loss, but Hamuza now wears glasses, takes medication, and will permanently have black spots on his eyes. Despite these challenges, Hamuza is an amazing midfielder.  He is quick, agile, and fearless in his dribbling, passing, and defending.  As time ran out on the Championship game clock, Hamuza was chosen by his teammates to be one of five players to take a penalty kick in overtime.


I didn’t do well as a newly crowned Soccer Mom.  I fumbled with my camera trying to get good live-action shots while trying to watch the action unfold in real time.  I found myself wishing for the other team to make mistakes rather than hoping for all players to do their best.  I willed with all my heart and soul for Hamuza’s penalty kick to go through the goal.


SMK lost the Championship game in a penalty kick shootout 3-1.  But I have to believe, that with the help of all the Friends of Change the Truth, the people who have traveled to Kajjansi, donated money and supplies, purchased dolls & artwork at the fundraisers, or even just taken the time to learn a little bit about the children of Ste. Mary Kevin, that this team and these children are winners.  This is one proud Soccer Mom.

 



Tieing A Tie

By Jeff


I don’t remember learning to tie a tie. I’m sure it was a special time when either my father or one of my three brothers taught me, but it does not stand out in my mind. Over the years, as both teacher and coach, I’ve taught some of my students and athletes how to look smart with an appropriate windsor or half-windsor knot. For some, it is a right of passage for young men to learn how to dress in shirt and tie and for a father to teach their son the intricacies of various knots.


Until visiting St. Charles Secondary School,while here in Uganda, due to failure of my own memory and for not being a father I did not know this feeling. It was while visiting CTT sponsored students Scovia, Evalyn and Claire Faith at St. Charles I became not father of a proud son but of a proud daughter.  One of the uniforms requires a tie to be worn - it does not matter whether girl or boy. As it turns out, knowing how to tie a tie presented itself as a challenge to Evalyn. It was with distinct honor and privilege I taught Evalyn to tie her tie. Once crafting a careful knot herself she proudly wore her uniform the remainder of the day. She seemed to hold her head just a little bit higher and with an even brighter smile than she had before. Evalyn’s tie has forged a bond between us I will never forget.



 


 

Big Boys' Dormitory Facelift

Posted on March 9, 2012 at 6:30 AM

Since I have arrived at SMK, the Big Boys dormitory has been in desperate need of a fresh paint job and some minor repairs. Their dormitory is one of the older buildings within my compound and home to over 30 teenage boys annually. While the Big Boys were doing their level best to keep their area clean, their space was really causing challenges for them. Cracks would permit rodents to frequently enter their space. Some chipped foundation caused easy flooding conditions during heavy rains. The small pours in the walls became the breeding ground for bed bugs. The ceiling would frequently leak (sometimes on boys’ beds). The windows caused chilly air drafts to sweep through the dormitories at night.

 

 

    

 

 

However, those woes are a thing of the past thanks for Change The Truth and work efforts of Leroy (from CTT Team 5). This past December the dormitory finally got some much deserved attention. Big Boys, Eddie and Joseph, became co-Leaders with Leroy to price, purchase, and organize the painting and repair efforts. The trio was affectionately dubbed as LEJ Construction.

 

Every boy contributed their physical labor. A few former Big Boys even came back to SMK to assist with this project. And the results are really remarkable. It is truly amazing what a fresh coat of paint can accomplish to not only uplift the environment, but also the spirit and pride. In addition, some patch work to the ceiling, doorways, and foundations have significantly assisted with the rodents, air drafts, and flooding.

 

The boys have taken some additional pride in their space, and they are fiercely protective of their handiwork. Thanks again Change The Truth for a job well done!!

 

 

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